| As Rodrigo is in the final stages of his recovery from poison he calls Cesare to devise a way to reply to Caterina Sforza and the treacherous cardinals' agressions against their family while the Borgia patriarch's life was hanging by a thread. Rodrigo's paranoia has multiplied due to the attempt on his life and he sees Sforza's interests as aligned with the unreliable consistory's, while the death of his son Juan leads him to suspect even those closest to him: Cesare too could be, in Rodrigo's opinion, guilty for helping Della Rovere escape from prison and to show his father otherwise Cesare offers to approach the Roman cardinals' family members before they join Sforza's side as Pope Alexander VI will deal with the cardinals themselves in an intricate plot that will decimate Rome's anti-Borgia voices and implicate them in Juan's murder.|
Meanwhile, Caterina's agent Rufio meets with Paolo and Roberto Orsini, Vitelezzo Vitelli and Prospero Colonna, all of them ambitious young men at odds with each other, willing to unite against the Borgias if they can be convinced they have a chance at victory over the Pope of Rome. Cesare, sensing that Caterina is likely to approach all those envious of the Borgia power, starts threatening Vitelli to consider his decision well and even encounters the Orsini brothers and their cousin, cardinal Orsini, who all are much more callous and provocative, resulting in a standoff that's resolved in a bloodless way and an insinuation that Cesare might even be his brother's murderer.
Alfonso d' Aragona, soon-to-be Lucrezia's husband, informs her of his uncle the King of Naples, Ferdinand's wish to avoid any scandal stemming from the fact that Giovanni is Lucrezia's illegitimate offspring and seems to insist that he must be separated from her mother after the new wedding. As Alfonso also refuses to have pre-marital sexual relations with Lucrezia due to a vow he made, Lucrezia turns to her brother Cesare to ensure her wish to keep her child near her will be granted and channels some of her sexual energy on him. Cesare promises to negotiate hard on her behalf and the two siblings are prevented from kissing at the last second.
Rodrigo's also facing some frustration with his sexual life as a night with Giulia Farnese seems to have not awaken his vigor, an undesirable effect he blames poison for. Farnese, worried that she might soon lose not only the Pope's affection but also his protection, approaches Vanozza who practically advises her to state her price -a palace and a seat in consistory for Giulia's brother Alessandro Farnese- and leave the Pope's bed in amicable terms. Rodrigo grows even closer to Vanozza due to his fear of enemies outside the family's hearth and a brief sexual encounter in what is destined to become Giulia's new residence restores his sexual prowess and proves that his short-lived impotence was merely a side-effect of extreme shock and anxiety.
Rodrigo summons cardinal Sforza and orders him to start an unorthodox inquisition that will apply pressure to every cardinal to give up what they know about their colleagues' political affiliations in order to acquit themselves. Sforza reluctanly obeys and approaches the one cardinal Rodrigo thinks will be most susceptible to that technique, De Luca. After a night in the dungeons of the Castel Sant' Angelo meant as a warning, cardinal De Luca learns the value of lying to save one's self and starts charging innocent cardinals with a vast conspiracy that led to Juan's death and the attempt on the Pope's life. Cardinals Versucci, Orsini, Colonna and Piccolomini are all summarily condemned and stripped of their offices, titles and fortunes. The raucous caused by the defrocked Piccolomini, though, functions as the best cover for cardinal Orsini's attempt to stab and kill the Pope, using a request for a last, private confession as a pretense. The Pope prevails in the wrestling that ensues and Orsini dies just before Cesare enters the room in utter shock, only to hear Rodrigo declaring that this killing-in-self-defence was another proof of God's wish to see him survive.